Plays at the CSPS Hall

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CSPS Sokol Hall Theater

backdropFrom its beginnings in 1879, the Sokol theatric tradition continues to this day. One member recalls that in the "old" days, the Damaticky Odbor or Drama Club often presented four productions per year, with cast numbers depending upon the piece performed—in Cech. A prompter was an integral part of the production, often providing impatient comment to those with the poorest memories. A kind of informal creative competition took place between the C.S.P.S. Hall and Beseda (Hall) of St. Stanislav Church which also sponsored cultural events and theater.

In 2007, in a partnership with the Lex_ham Community Theater, Sokol co-produced a series of productions. Lex-Ham producer Urban Landreman said “A major part of Lex-Hamʼs core mission is to help build community through the Arts. Itʼs a joy for us to partner with the Czech and Slovak Cultural Center since they also see how people can be brought together and communities strengthened.

The first, Vaclav Havelʼs Motomorphosis. referenced another Prague writerʼs (Franz Kafkaʼs) famous work where Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams to find that he had been transformed into a giant insect. Havelʼs characters, unlike Gregor in The Metamorphosis, are turning into automobiles. The second, Pavel Kahout's Fire in the Basement, is set in the early 1990s after the fall of Communism. It presents firemen as scam artists who intrude into the honeymoon setting of a couple. The satiric comedy addressed the confusion of the time where a new economic system is replacing the old and no one knows who to trust.

In 2007, we also presented the Mushroom Picker, Sokol member Patrick Dewane’s story about his grandfather, Matt Konop, who led American troops in liberating Domažlice, his ancestral village. Daniel Freeman presented a lecture on Antonín Dvořákʼs Rusalka, first performed in 1901 at the National Theater in Prague in our theater. We then attended the opera at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

memorandumIn 2008, we presented Vaclav Havel’s best known and well received play, the Memorandum, that drew upon absurdist traditions in theater. The Memorandum follows Gross, the Managing Director of a large bureaucracy. His Deputy Director has declared that Ptydepe, a completely logical and almost completely incomprehensible language, become the new official language for all office communications. Bureaucratic rules, office politics, and management fads rule as employees throughout the organization respond to the new mandate.

And who can forget the staged review for Sokol's 125th anniversary celebration?

Aside from Sokol archivists’ display of 125 years of photos and memorabilia and Antonin Dvořák artifacts by the Schubert Club and a private collector, the revue's program included a historical narrative, Lex-Ham Low Brass Ensemble: Czech and Slovak folk songs; Karin Wolverton, Minnesota Opera: recital, 125th crowdAnton Dvořák selections; Senator Sandy Pappas: Blanche Yurka, reading; Patrick Dewane: The Mushroom Picker, reading; Overture; Lex-Ham Community Theatre: Václav Havel, The Memorandum, scene; Elisabeth Bieber: recital, Czech and Slovak folk songswith support from our very own Senior Singers.

In 2008 we also hosted our first mystery dinner theater written by our member Denis Novak: A spine-tingling mystery more than aroused suspicions as dastardly detail after detail emerged. Dinner guests were seated at the Captain’s Table aboard a 1920’s luxury cruise ship and helped solve a staged mystery. Dinner guests were encouraged to wear 1920s costumes." The successful event raised $2,000 toward Sokol flood relief in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In 2009 the scene was the Terezin Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia during World War II: the US premiere of The Last Cyclist, Karel Švenk’s cabaret, was adapted by Naomi Patz and directed by Adam Arnold. Jana Sedova, female lead and a lone survivor of the production, reconstructed the play in her later years. The locale is the Terezin Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia during World War II. Nazis featured the camp in its propaganda as an idyllic internment for Czech/Jewish prisoners, though 80,000 died there, including 15,000 children. Courageous songs, including Terezin Hymn, offer a remarkable glimpse of life in the camp through the eyes of its inmates.

In 2010, we produced our second mystery play written by Denis Novak, Death by Kolacky. "As the sun sets on the Tenth Day of the Tenth Month of the Tenth Year, a mystery will unravel inside the CSPS Hall. Our very own Denis Novak is sleuthing again, and he needs your help to solve the Roaring 20’s West End murder of one of “Aunt Mary” Hruska’s boys."

In 2011 we premiered Rachel Perlmeter's new work (music by J. Anthony Allen) for stage and radio, The Dvořák Project that re-imagines composer Antonín Dvořák's visit to the Midwest and our own hall in 1893. The journey included a trip to Minnehaha Falls and a banquet held in his honor at the CSPS Hall in Saint Paul.